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Construction set to begin at Temiskaming cobalt, nickel refinery

Approval of closure plan greenlights Electra Battery Materials to build solvent extraction plant this spring
Electra Battery Materials refinery 1
(Electra Battery Materials photo)

New construction to expand a Temiskaming cobalt and nickel refinery begins this spring.

Electra Battery Materials announced March 7 that the pouring of concrete will begin with a few weeks for a solvent extraction plant at its facility outside the town of Cobalt. 

The Toronto-based processing company received provincial approval of its closure plan for the refinery's expansion and recommissioning on March 4, enabling Electra to accelerate new construction and do other industry-related activity at the site.

A closure plan is required by mining-related companies under Ontario's Mining Act. In the plan, the company must outline how the land will be impacted by development activity and how it will be rehabilitated when the plant closes.

The company must provide a financial guarantee equal to the estimated cost of the rehabilitation work. The plan must be approved by the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines before development work can begin.

To date, contractors have been working within the existing refinery to recommission electrical, mechanical and instrumentation equipment.

Electra said the building shell for the extraction plant should be completed by early summer.

Metso Outotec was selected last fall for the design and manufacturing of the equipment for the solvent extraction plant and its process controls.

The upcoming construction is the first step in a larger build-out toward establishing a battery materials park by 2026 to serve Canadian and U.S. electric vehicle manufacturers. The complex will include a battery recycling facility. This industrial park will be the first of its kind in North America. The plant complex could create between 200 and 300 jobs.

The commissioning of the cobalt processing part of the refinery begins this December when mined material arrives from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Electra said its business strategy is to produce enough battery material to supply 1.5 million electric vehicles annually.

The cobalt sulfate refinery is on schedule to commence commissioning by the fourth quarter of this year. The battery recycling plant is expected to start up in 2023.

In the meantime, over the next 18 months, Electra is having bulk sample testing performed of valuable black mass material from recycled lithium batteries